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MX                          TAMERLANE                        209
in the stricken field of Kosovo, in A.D. 1389, they worsted
the Servians and their Christian allies mainly owing to
the bravery of Bayazid, and that seven years later at
Nicopolis the chivalry of Europe broke and fled before
the armed might of the Sultan, whose rapidity of action
had earned for him the tide of the c< Thunderbolt/'
When Tamerlane stormed Sivas, a son of the Sultan
was put to death, and Bayazid, who was besieging Con-
stantinople, hastened over to Asia Minor to meet the
invader. But Tamerlane had meanwhile marched into
Syria, and it was not until a year later that the two
great conquerors confronted one another on the field of
Bayazid appears to have become indolent after his great
successes, and, moreover, he was notoriously avaricious,
the most fatal of all failings in the East. Consequently
he was no match for his great opponent, who was ever fit
and ready for war. The decisive battle was fought at
Angora, which had witnessed the final defeat of Mith-
ridates by Pompey and at a later date the first victory of
the Osmanlis. Bayazid brought his men on to the field
tired and suffering from thirst, and some of his con-
tingents deserted, relying on the reputation for generosity
enjoyed by the invaders, whose agents had been active.
The Janissaries and the Christian contingents fought
splendidly, but the greater numbers of Tamerlane ulti-
mately prevailed, and, as old Knolles writes, " He with
much ado obtained the victory." Bayazid was taken
prisoner and, after an attempt at escape, was chained at
night ; this circumstance, and the fact that the royal
prisoner travelled in a barred litter, originated the legend
of his confinement in an iron cage.1 Tamerlane reaped the
fruits of victory by occupying Asia Minor, including the
ports of Brusa, Nicaea, and Smyrna. From the last-named
city he expelled the knights of St. John, It is interesting
to learn that Tamerlane wrote a letter to Henry IV. of
England in which he offered free commercial intercourse
to his subjects. Henry's reply, the draft of which is
1 Bayazid appears in Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great^ and is made to beat out his
brains against the bars of the cage.
VOL. II                                                                                   P